SALT LAKE CITY — With a goal of "building on strong partnerships and establishing a new direction for environmental management in Utah," the state Department of Environmental Quality released its annual report Tuesday charting the progress the agency has made in the last year.
Called the "State of the Environment Report for 2010," the document highlights success stories throughout the year and makes note of challenges that remain to be tackled.
"As our first full year together draws to a close, I am proud of our accomplishments and achievements," said Amanda Smith, who was tapped by Gov. Gary Herbert to lead the agency.
Among milestones referenced in the report are Superfund cleanups like the work being done in Eureka and the agency's assistance in the cleanup of an 18-acre property near Gateway that is being prepared for future development.
The department was also the lead agency monitoring air and water quality impacts of a June oil spill from the Chevron pipeline and was an investigative partner on a deliberate dumping of oil into the Strawberry and Duchesne rivers in late September.
Work continues by air quality regulators to bring Utah into compliance with federal requirements on reducing fine particulate pollution in the winter months and bring ozone levels under control during the heat of Utah's summers.
The agency is also partnering with multiple groups in a new effort to combat ozone pollutants in the bowl-shaped Uintah Basin to get ahead of any federal dictates.
Radioactive waste issues such as the importation of Italian waste, the disposal of depleted uranium and whether "down-blended" waste should be buried in Utah have dominated the attention of the department's Radiation Control Board, which in the next year will continue to wrestle with disposal regulations.
On the water front, the agency has led the way on studies of imperiled waters in Utah and worked to reduce the levels of contaminants that can threaten drinking water supplies.
During the summer of 2010, it worked with other agencies to mount an aggressive campaign to assess the presence of E. coli in recreational waters, subsequently posting swimming advisories at Salem Pond in Utah County to help protect public health.
The report notes that through a multitude of programs the agency has tackled air, ground and water contaminants.
A nearly $4 million effort saw the agency partnering with state and local school officials to reduce emissions caused by school buses. By mid-September more than 950 of the vehicles were slated to be retrofitted and another 26 eco-friendly buses were purchased.
The agency also directed its attention and dollars toward farm vehicles and equipment in an emissions-reducing campaign that acquired funds to boost fuel efficiency and curtail diesel emissions in the trucking industry.
Waste that could be headed to landfills continues to be part of a multi-pronged effort by the agency, including the supervision of the used oil collection program, which saw nearly 13 million gallons recycled in the state in 2009. The agency also reports that during fiscal year 2010, nearly 100 percent of all the tires collected in Utah were either recycled or reused.
Work remains to be done, however, on the agency's efforts to institute a state-wide program for recycling so-called E-scrap or E-waste. Multiple groups have been meeting throughout the year to lend input to legislation anticipated to be introduced in the session that begins in January.
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